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New Laws Slap $1000 Fine On Drivers Using Phones Behind The Wheel

Queensland drivers caught using their mobile phones will soon face hefty $1000 fines, under strict new laws to be introduced by the state government.

The QLD government has come down hard, introducing the toughest laws of their kind in the country.

Not only will drivers be handed hefty fines, they'll also cop four demerit points, up from the current three.

text drive
If you do this, you better have a spare $1000 handy. Image: Getty

If lawbreakers are caught a second time within 12 months, double demerits will apply -- and they could lose their licence.

Transport Minister Mark Baily acknowledged the penalties are tough, but said they were necessary to get the message through.

“Drivers using their phones illegally behind the wheel will pay a high price, but that penalty falls well short of the costs and trauma our community carries for those killed or injured in crashes caused by inattentive drivers," he said.

A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10. Image: Getty

Up to 70 percent of Queensland drivers use their mobile phone illegally in the car, according to a 2018 survey of 3000 drivers.

The most common offence was texting (48 percent), while checking emails, social media and using the internet were also alarmingly common (42 percent).

“A driver’s response time while texting is comparable to that of a driver with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10," Bailey said.

“Like drink driving, drivers need to know that reaching for the phone to send a quick text or check social media when their eyes should be on the road is unacceptable".

Queensland Minister for Transport Mark Bailey said the penalties were necessary. Image: Glenn Hunt via AAP

Bailey suggested drivers put their phone in the glovebox or set it to Do Not Disturb in an effort to resist the temptation of picking it up.

“It’s a deadly habit that needs to stop," he said.

Queensland's new penalties come into force on February 1, 2020.

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On Your Phone While Driving? New AI Cameras Will Catch You

New cameras will be activated around NSW specifically targeting drivers who illegally use their mobile phones behind the wheel.

The announcement comes as the NSW government reveals its rollout of new technology to detect drivers using their phones from December 1.

A trial was carried out between January and June, catching more than 100,000 drivers using their phones illegally.

"Get your hand off it" was the message for NSW drivers. Image: 10 News First

According to a study carried out by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, Aussie drivers are distracted every 96 seconds, with distractions responsible for 16 percent of all fatal crashes.

As a result, a number of state governments have increased their penalties surrounding distracted driving, particularly mobile phone use.

PENALTIES FOR USING YOUR PHONE BY THE WHEEL

NSW: $344 and five demerit points ($457 in a school zone)

VICTORIA: $484 and four demerits points

SA: $534 and three demerit points

WA: $400 and three demerit points

TASMANIA: $300 and three demerit points

Image: Getty.
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO USE YOUR PHONE IN THE CAR

It's illegal for drivers to hold their phones in the car, even if they are stationary. Even using your phone to pay at a drive-thru is technically illegal, unless you apply the handbrake and switch the engine off.

However, you can make or answer phone calls, as well as play music from the device through hands-free or Bluetooth.

If the phone is being used for navigation, it needs to be mounted.